Notre Dame hosts Detroit Mercy in long-delayed home-opener

NCAA

Fourth time’s a charm?

Notre Dame sure hopes so, because it hosts Detroit Mercy on Sunday night in what will be its fourth attempt to start its home schedule after three previous opponents were forced to cancel due to COVID-19 positive tests.

The Fighting Irish (0-1) were originally scheduled to host Western Michigan and later Tennessee, and then had a makeup game lined up against Purdue Fort Wayne also nixed at the last minute.

Notre Dame has something in common with Detroit Mercy. Each team lost to Michigan State in its respective season-openers.

Assuming the game is played, the Irish would end an eight-day layoff since their 80-70 defeat against the Spartans in East Lansing on Nov. 28.

Prentiss Hubb had an impressive start with 23 points and six rebounds as four Irish players scored in double figures. But sloppy handling of the ball in the first half — seven of their 10 turnovers — allowed Michigan State to use a 17-0 run to seize control and eventually lead by as many as 28 points.

Notre Dame led by four early before going on a nine-plus minute scoring drought in that half.

Stanford transfer Cormac Ryan scored 13 points in his Irish debut while Nate Laszewski and Dane Goodwin each had 12 points. Laszewski grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and Goodwin totaled eight, but Notre Dame had plenty of trouble handling Michigan State’s size in the frontcourt.

“It was a great teaching moment for our group about how a game can get away from you if you’re careless with the ball,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.

Detroit Mercy (0-1) was picked ninth in the Horizon League’s preseason rankings. And yet the Titans nearly upset the No. 8 Spartans on the road, leading until the 6:35 mark of the second half before falling 83-76 on Friday.

Antoine Davis, a Horizon League preseason first team selection, led the near-upset bid with 24 points.

The Titans’ transfer additions — Matt Johnson (20 points, 5 rebounds), Marquell Fraser (11 points, 12 rebounds) and Bul Kuol (12 points) — all played key roles as well.

But depth ultimately decided the outcome, as Michigan State’s bench outscored the Titans 20-2 as Detroit Mercy only went three-deep with Dwayne Rose Jr. playing the most (23 minutes, 2 points).

“Our guys fought really hard,” Detroit Mercy coach Mike Davis said. “We just ran out of bodies.”

–Field Level Media

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